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The day democracy died
August 19, 1953

By Fariba Amini
August 19, 2003
The Iranian

White House Press Briefing with Scott McLellan
Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 2:00 p.m.

Mokhiber: The other question is this - the New York Times reporter, Stephen Kinzer, has just come out with a book called, All the Shah's Men, An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. He documents a CIA peration - Operation Ajax -- which was a coup that overthrew the democratic-elected Prime Minister - Mossadegh. And he makes the following argument -- and I was wondering if you agree to this -- he says, "It is not farfetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."

Scott McClellan: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on a book that I haven't read, but -- you're asking about the Central Intelligence Agency?

Mokhiber: It was a coup by the United States of a democratically elected leader in Iran.

Scott McClellan: Russell, I haven't even seen that book...

Fifty years ago today, the United States government and the Central Intelligence Agency under the guidance of Kermit Roosevelt brought Dr. Mossadegh, the beloved and elected prime minister of Iran down to his knees, and overthrew his government. For most Iranians, that was never to be forgotten. It was the day Britain and the US, in order to save their interest in oil and for other economic gains, decided to eliminate the major obstacles in their path: The movement for the nationalization of oil and its leader, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh.

Some months earlier, Dr. Mossadegh, single-handedly stood up to the mightiest empire in the globe by protecting Iran's interest in oil at the United Nations and The Hague and had won his case triumphantly. By doing so he had angered the British immensely. Thus, the emerging and declining superpowers of yesterday began their crusade and launched an all out offensive against an elected government of another country.

In coup of August 19, 1953 the Eisenhower administration, the Dulles brothers, Kermit Roosevelt, General Scwartskopf, Sir Anthony Eden And his British counterparts in the MI6 were not the only culprits. After all, they Had their respective countries' best interest in mind! But the real blameworthy were those Iranians who betrayed their own country for money and power. Without their active role, the coup would not have succeeded.

Their treason was not just against a man, who is considered by historians as the most democratic minded statesman in all of Iran's history, but also against the Iranian nation as a whole. Consequently, the coup halted the nation's progress towards democratic rule and culminated in a 25-year-rule of a dictatorial monarchy and 24-year-rule of a ruthless theocracy.

As an Iranian and as a person whose father was Dr. Mossadegh's personal attorney and close friend, I would like to take this opportunity and post these clippings and pictures from almost 52 years ago from the magazine Tehran Mossavar. In these photos and articles , one can clearly see the depth of Dr. Mossadegh's belief in democratic values and his civilized demeanor towards his friends and foes alike.

Unlike the claim of many in the West, namely the British and US Governments at the time who portrayed Dr. Mossadegh as an old foolish man, he was a genuine believer in the government of the people by the people.

In All the Shah's Men, Stephen Kinzer quotes a villager in Ahmadabad, where Mossadegh was exiled:

I asked if Mr. Takrousta and his neighbors felt different from people in other villages and he assured me that they did. We are not only different, he told me, We're different because of the effect Mossadegh had on us. Visitors come here from far away. They don't come to any other village. People here are proud that we had the privilege of having such a great man here. We try to behave according to the example he gave us. We have a sense of charity, cooperation, unity, and solidarity. We take the hands of people in need. People from other villages know we're like this and when they problems, they come to us and we help them. You can't think of Ahmadabad without thinking of Mossadegh. He's the father of our nation but also the father of this village. It's really a shame that they destroyed his government.

Mossadegh is truly the father of our nation and until the day when he will be recognized, both by his enemies and his friends as such, one whose devotion to democracy led to his downfall and his exile, Iranians will not be satisfied. Mossadegh's place in history must be acknowledged next to Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandella as his struggle for Iran's independence from foreign domination found new momentum in the history of the Middle East and gave birth to struggle for independence elsewhere.

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By Fariba Amini









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